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The Essentials

  • Cats don’t see the color spectrum like humans do — While cats can’t distinguish the true color of an object, they can see blue, gray, and, potentially, yellow.
  • Felines rely heavily on their wider field of vision to hunt — It helps them quickly spot small prey regardless of its color.
  • Your cat can’t dislike or be afraid of a specific color —Feline fears usually have something to do with the object’s shape, its sudden appearance, or the way it moves.

If you’ve ever wondered if your feline friend is color-blind, you aren’t alone. A cat’s vision is vastly different from ours in some ways and quite similar in others. But what does this say about their perception of color?

Yes, cats see color! But, it’s not the same spectrum of colors that we see. Let’s dive a little deeper.

Are cats color-blind?

Yes, and no. Cats don’t see the world in black and white, but rather aren’t able to differentiate some colors from others.

Cats’ eyes are built slightly differently than ours in the sense of rods and cones. They have a higher number of rods and fewer cones in their retinas compared to humans. Rods are responsible for peripheral and night vision while cones are responsible for seeing color and in bright light. 

Because of a cat’s different number of rods and cones, cats don’t see colors quite the same as we do but can surely see in the dark better than we can.

What colors can cats see?

The research regarding feline vision is still ongoing, and there are various hypotheses about what shades cats can and cannot see. Some studies suggest that cats only see yellows and blues, similarly to dogs.

The most common answer, though, seems to be that cats mostly can see shades of blues, greens, yellows, and grays. Red and pink may be seen as closer to a shade of green, and purple may resemble another shade of blue.

How do we know that cats can see color?

There have been a handful of tests and studies done involving cats and color panels to see whether they decipher certain shades over others. One study suggests that cats have vision similar to a human with red-green colorblindness rather than a full range of color. 

Another study goes into depth about the differences in vision in general between cats and humans, covering four major components (one of them being color) and actually creating an interactive “game” for users to play to simulate a cat’s vision. 

Frequently asked questions

What colors can cats see?

Cats are most sensitive to shades of blue and gray, but their ability to distinguish between different colors is limited compared to humans. Cats’ color vision is thought to be similar to that of a person with red-green color blindness. They see a world with less vibrant colors and need help distinguishing between reds, oranges, and greens.

Can cats see in the dark?

Yes, cats have excellent night vision and are able to see in the dark six times better than humans (thanks to the extra rods in their retinas). Their eyes are equipped with a specialized structure called the tapetum lucidum, which reflects light back through the retina, enhancing their vision in the dark. Their elliptical pupils are also excellent at dilating to allow more light to reach the back of the eye.

What color do cats see best?

While the exact color spectrum cats can see is still up for debate, it’s widely agreed that cats can recognize shades of blue, green, and grey the best.

How accurate is a cat’s eyesight?

A cat’s eyesight is considered to be very accurate, especially in certain aspects. They have exceptional night vision due to the tapetum lucidum, which reflects light back through the retina, enhancing their ability to see in the dark. Cats also have excellent motion detection and peripheral vision, which makes them fantastic at spotting movement and changes in their surroundings. However, their color vision is less sharp than humans, and they are thought to see the world in blue and yellow colors. Cats are also more near-sighted than we humans are.